Every aircraft design process begins with this wing loading calculation. The wing loading is a parameter that affects several performance parameters of an aircraft, such as aircraft speed during take-off, landing, cruising, and stalling. The wing loading depends on only two factors, i.e., weight and surface area of wings, however, it also affects the turning performance and stability of an aircraft. Read on to understand what is wing loading and how to use the wing loading formula to get started with any aircraft design process.

What is wing loading parameter?

Wing loading is defined as the ratio of the weight of an aircraft and the surface area of its wings. The weight here is usually assumed to be the gross weight or maximum take-off weight of the aircraft. The wing loading parameter WL is given by the equation:

WL = W / S

where W and S are the weight of aircraft and wing surface area. In other words, wing loading can be defined as weight of aircraft per unit area of wing like surface density. Similarly, wing cube loading, WCL can be written as:

WCL = W / S1.5

Wing loading is measured in the units kg/m2 and lb/ft2 whereas wing cube loading is measured as weight per unit volume, i.e., same as density.

Parameters affected by wing loading

Wing loading parameter forms the basis of the early stages of aircraft design. Some of the parameters which are affected by the value of wing loading are:

  • Aircraft speeds — Different types of aircraft speeds such as take-off and landing speeds, cruising and maximum speeds, and stalling speed, all are affected by any change in the wing loading parameter. Now, the area of the wing remains constant, which implies the load carried by aircraft causes an increase and decrease of various types of speeds. Such that, for a given velocity V:
    WL ∝ V2
  • Turning performance — The turning radius and load factor is dependent on the wing loading. An aircraft can make tighter turns if its weight is less. Such that, for a particular turning radius R:
    WL ∝ R

How to calculate wing loading using this calculator?

Follow the steps below to calculate wing loading:

  1. Enter the weight of the aircraft.
  2. Fill in the surface area of wings.
  3. The wing loading calculator will return wing loading and wing cube loading.

Example: Using the aircraft wing loading calculator

Estimate the wing loading for a MiG 21 aircraft whose wing surface area is 23 m2 and take off weight is 10,400 kg.

To calculate wing loading:

  1. Enter the weight of the aircraft, W = 10,400 kg.
  2. Fill in the surface area of wings S = 23 m2.
  3. Using the wing loading formula:
    WL = W / S = 10400 / 23 = 452.2 kg/m2
    You can also use the advanced mode to find out the wing loading for some popular aircraft from the list.
  4. Similarly, wing cube loading can be calculated as:
WCL = W / S1.5 = 10400 / 231.5 = 94.28 kg/m3

Wing loading for aircraft

The wing loading parameter varies for different types of aircraft. For instance, a glider aircraft has a very low value of wing loading compared to a military or a passenger jet. Similarly, a passenger aircraft has a larger wing loading value compared to military fighter aircraft due to the larger load. Further, different types of wing configuration have a different aspect ratio and wing loading. A typical hobby RC aircraft has 0.625 - 2.5 lb/ft2.


What is wing loading?

Wing loading is defined as the ratio of the weight of an aircraft to the surface area of wings.

How do you calculate wing loading?

Divide the weight of aircraft by surface area.

What is the wing loading of a glider?

A typical glider has a wing loading of less than 100 kg/m2. As per UK CAA, the wing loading limit for microlights is 25 kg/m2.

What is wing loading of an F-22?

The wing loading of F-22 is 377 kg/m2. A typical F-22 weighs, 29,410 kg and has a wing surface area of 78 m2.

Rahul Dhari
Wing surface area (S)
Weight (W)
Wing loading (W_L)
Wing cube loading (W_CL)
lb/cu ft
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